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Winter Blast Invades the North and East; Common Ground on Infrastructure?; Russia Pushes for U.S.-North Korea Negotiations. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired December 27, 2017 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:59] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Five feet of snow and climbing. Parts of the North and East getting socked with winter weather as a cold front brings single digit temps to these New Year's Eve Revelers.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: And the White House getting ready to roll out framework of an infrastructure plan. Can the president get Democrats on board for what's historically been a bipartisan issue anyway?

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Alison Kosik.

BRIGGS: And I'm suspect about bipartisanship in this environment.

KOSIK: You always are. I think it's healthy to be skeptical in this environment.

BRIGGS: We will discuss the later in the program, not so sure that will happen but maybe infrastructure is the one. We start, though, with the weather outside. It is indeed frightful. Snowfall records being shattered as temperatures dip and a winter blast invading much of the north and east.

Check this out. Got some time lapse video of the record breaking snowfall in Erie, Pennsylvania. People there got over five feet of snow since Christmas Day and it is not over yet.

KOSIK: Yes, but everybody trying to make the best of it. This man that you're about to see, Yes, he broke out his skis to get around his neighborhood. Even some dogs are having some trouble getting around. At least though they don't --

BRIGGS: He's making it?

KOSIK: I know, he's having so much fun. It's the pets that have the greatest time.

BRIGGS: The snow, part of a broader system heading east for New Year's. Temperatures for the ball drop in Times Square will feel like single digits.

Let's check in with our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri live in the weather center. They're used to snow in Erie, Pennsylvania, but not this kind of snow, are they? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is incredible.

You know, I'm just looking at the numbers, that amount of snow alone, 62 inches in three days is just about more than just about every single medium sized city in the U.S. would expect to get with exception of a couple of them right there along the Great Lakes and, of course, this being one of them. Erie coming in with 62 inches, you see the numbers come down into a couple of feet, but the impressive nature of how this played out. Just two inches fell on Christmas Eve and 34 fell on Christmas Day, 24 more follow on the day after Christmas.

And this number alone, those two days, 58 inches, that's more than say, Boulder, Colorado, gets in an entire year. That's high top the Rockies. So, really puts it in perspective.

There's additional snow along the shores, but further around, say, Grand Rapids, Traverse City there, seeing some of the higher amounts, upwards of a foot in store over the next 24 to 48 hours. But the big story, really the bigger story moving forward is the wind-chills. Upwards of 50 million people, parts of 20 states have wind-chills ranging from minus 20 to minus 45, and would you believe it's going to get colder as we approach Sunday night into Monday morning around parts of the northern tier of the country.

But here you, 35 below in Duluth this morning. International Falls, often known as the ice box of the U.S., minus 30 the best they can do, has you questioning. Is this Minnesota or is this Mars because look at this. In International Falls, Minnesota, minus eight is the high temperature that is expected on the surface of Mars, according to the rover that's up there, sending its obvs, observation there, minus nine was the high temperature on Tuesday. So, a Martin-like temperature across the northern tier of the country.

And I talked about this being a pattern that's going to continue for a couple of days. Well, don't be lulled into thinking this is really just going to be as cold as it gets for this season for this year, because we're going to really end 2017 with a blast here. You get the arctic blast that moves through. We get a brief break but as we go from Sunday into Monday, that cold air, at the core of it, moves right over the Northeast.

And, you know, Dave, we were just talking about how cold we're looking at, single digits absolutely possible. That's without the winds. You see it drops down to around 10 degrees on Sunday into Monday morning especially down to 9 degrees with about a ten-mile-per-hour wind that we expect around midnight. A minus seven wind-chill is expected as the ball drops, at this hour at least. That's what the models are indicating. Seven below wind-chills as the ball drops. So, it could be a memorable one to say the least.

BRIGGS: That's why I'll be bundled up inside with hot cocoa. That was great stuff there. You had me at Mars. That is excellent, excellent stuff from Pedram.

All right. Thank you, my friend. JAVAHERI: Thank you.

KOSIK: President Trump and the White House are hoping to unveil the framework of an infrastructure plan by next month.

[04:35:00] The hope is to have it be a major part of the president's first State of the Union Address on January 30th. Now, the plan is going to propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure over the next decade with hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding despite strapped state and local budgets.

BRIGGS: Some Democrats and business groups saying $200 billion is too low, but a White House official says the figure is more of a floor, not a ceiling. As part of the plan, the White House will also propose simplifying the federal permitting process, hoping to reduce the time it takes to get projects done. Look for a giant colorful chart in that regard.

KOSIK: The president is getting ready to travel around the country pushing this infrastructure agenda. It's historically proven to be an area that usually gets bipartisan agreement. White House officials have suggested few politicians would even oppose a plan to fix crumbling roads, bridges and other projects.

BRIGGS: President Trump trying to keep a low profile while vacationing in his Mar-a-Lago estate, but couldn't resist brief Twitter rant, slamming that now infamous dossier helping fuel aspects of the Russia investigation. But not everything in that tweet checks outs entirely.

KOSIK: CNN also exclusively catching the president hitting the links at one of his golf courses. It's more common theme that you'd expect.

CNN's Ryan Nobles is traveling with the president and has the latest from Florida.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Alison and Dave, good morning from West Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is spending his holiday week and there were no public events on the president's schedule on Tuesday, so the only way we really know what he was thinking about is by looking at his Twitter feed and the president did have a lot to say about a number of topics, including the investigation by Robert Mueller and the special counsel.

This is what the president tweeted. He said quote, wow, Fox and Friends, talking about a show on Fox, the dossier is bogus. FBI, DNC- funded dossier, FBI cannot after all this time verify claims in dossier of Russia, Trump collusion, FBI tainted, and they used this crooked Hillary pile of garbage as the basis for going after the Trump campaign.

This tweet, another example of the president attempting to discredit Robert Mueller and his investigation. The tweet not exactly accurate. While the FBI did use portions of the dossier which they did confirm were actually accurate, it is by no means the basis of that investigation.

We only saw the president very briefly on Tuesday, and that's when our cameras exclusively caught him on the golf course. He was at Trump International Golf Course for about five hours on Tuesday. This was the president's 110th trip to one of his Trump-owned properties since he was inaugurated. That is one third of his presidency -- Alison and Dave.


BRIGGS: Thank you, Ryan. I think we need a closer look at that golf swing later in this program.

All right. Efforts by the president and his allies to discredit Robert Mueller, the topic of an editorial in "The USA Today". The paper is asking why the effort to slow the investigation is ramping if the president is actually innocent. The paper concludes, quote, imagine if that's true, if the Russia story is truly fake news and a witch hunt as the president and his minions insist, why would they sling mud at the very people and institutions that would place their valuable imprimatur or acceptance on such a conclusion? Why, you have to wonder, are they so worried about what Mueller's investigation and what it might reveal?

KOSIK: The Mueller probe has come under scrutiny since it was revealed a member of his team, Peter Strzok, exchanged anti-Trump text during the campaign. Strzok was removed from the Russia probe over the summer.

BRIGGS: A tie breaker to settle a Virginia house race that would determine balance of power in the bellwether state delayed now until next week. Lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a motion asking three circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote for her Republican rival David Yancey, a decision to count the controversial ballot made the race a tie, a day after a recount panel had declared a one-vote victory for the Democrat Simonds.

KOSIK: The chairman of the Virginia board of elections says the tie breaker will be delayed to let the legal process play out. So, if the tie breaker eventually goes forward, it will then be a lock draw and that means the two candidates names will be put into film canisters and the first name drawn from the bowl will be declared the winner.

BRIGGS: Singer Joy Villa speaking out to CNN after accusing former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of sexual assault. A Trump supporter, she filed a police report claiming Lewandowski slapped her bottom twice while posing for a picture at Trump International Hotel in Washington back in November. Lewandoski was drinking, appeared to be in bad spirits and was quote, acting like a clown.

KOSIK: She went on to say when she told him he could report him for sexual harassment, he said he, quote, worked in the private sector and slapped her again. Lewandowski did not respond to CNN's request for comment. [04:40:01] BRIGGS: The U.S. government sanctioning two senior figures

linked to North Korea's missile program, all part of an ongoing effort to pressure Pyongyang to stop its nuclear missile development. Meantime, in a call with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russia's foreign minister pushing for a fast path toward negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.

Let's bring in CNN's Frederik Pleitgen live in Moscow with the latest -- Fred.


Yes, and it really feels that the Russians are trying to insert themselves into any sort of negotiations that might take place around this crisis between the U.S. and North Korea. It was quite interesting with that phone call last night between Secretary of State Tillerson and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that apparently the two men, and this is according to the Russian account of all this. They agreed on the fact that what or some of the things that the North Koreans are doing was not helpful and was against the U.N. Security Council, namely of course the new ballistic missile program and also miniaturizing some of those nuclear warheads, or trying to miniaturize them.

But then the Russians went into full critique mode of the United States, saying some of the rhetoric coming out of the Trump administration was not helpful to the situation. One of the things that apparently the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said as he said that the U.S. needs to get away from what he calls the language of sanctions to the language of negotiations. And the Russians were saying they were willing to mediate those negotiations and, of course, the big question is whether or not the U.S. would be willing to accept Russia as a mediator or even as one of the most important mediators in this conflict, especially after all the things that have transpired since the election in the United States.

There's no doubt that the Russians do hold some sway with Pyongyang, but then, of course, there are those big trust issues between the U.S. and Russia especially at this point in time, Dave.

BRIGGS: It would be interesting, Fred, to see if they accept Russia as a broker of peace.

All right. Thank you, sir.

KOSIK: Making plans for New Year's actually being put on the back burner as many scramble to pay their taxes early. Homeowners are spending this last week of 2017 standing in lines at county offices, trying to prepay 2018's tax bill before the end of the year.

Example for you at the Fairfax government center in Virginia, hundreds of taxpayers lined up outside to pay their bills early and that's because the new tax bill that passed last week, puts a cap on the amount you can deduct for state, local and property taxes at $10,000. Currently, the deduction is unlimited. So, in some high tax states like New York, New Jersey and Maryland, that means some homeowners are going to be paying a lot more in taxes.

Now, while some counties have long allowed for prepaying, others are kind of scrambling trying to figure this out, trying to make sure that those people who want to prepay can, even if the jurisdiction can't necessarily guarantee the prepayment will be deductible. Now, to prepay your own taxes within the next few days, you're going to need to check with your local jurisdiction or county to find out if it even allows for prepayment and to learn how you can file.

A flight from L.A. to Japan spent eight hours in the air only to return to its original departure point, California, L.A. What happens and the epic Twitter takedown from one celebrity on board.


[04:46:54] BRIGGS: Four-forty-six Eastern.

Now to the story that nearly stopped Twitter for most of the day, a round trip flight to nowhere. After more than eight hours in the air, passengers in a Los Angeles to Tokyo flight landed right back where they started. And model Chrissy Teigen, who's awesome, editorializing, one of 226 passengers onboard made sure everyone, all of her more than 9 million followers knew about it.

All Nippon Airways Flight 175 flew for four hours before making an abrupt U-turn because an unauthorized passenger was on board. The airline says when the cabin crew notified the pilot, the plane turned around as part of airline security procedure.

KOSIK: Chrissy Teigen, traveling with husband John Legend, not pleased. Here's some of her blog and that she did on Twitter.

First, there was confusion. After all this I will have spent eight hours on a flight to nowhere. Like we were all just having a great time up here flying in the sky watching Grand Torino. Time to go home now.

Then there was amusement. Don't know why I'm not more upset. The pleasure I get out of the story is worth more to me than a direct flight to Tokyo.

BRIGGS: Amusement turning frustration when she says, quote, won't be able to sleep until I know how this person figured out they were on the wrong flight. Then when no one would share information about the mystery passenger, Teigen added, no one will spill anything. Wish I had more for you guys. Wish I could be your Snowden.

All the passengers were put in a hotel and rebooked them on a flight this morning.

KOSIK: Still no explanation, though, with how the passenger got on the wrong flight. One possibility is the passenger was ticketed under a code share agreement. That's where one airline puts its name on a flight operated by another airline and sells tickets. Last night's All Nippon flight was also coded as a United flight.

BRIGGS: Good stuff. Can't make that up.

All right. Three cities taking the Pentagon to court. New York and Philadelphia, San Francisco, say the Defense Department is consistently failing to report convictions to the federal database that check before gun purchases. The lawsuit follows a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. It was carried out by a gunman whose domestic assault conviction while he was in the Air Force was never reported to the database.

KOSIK: That conviction was supposed to make it illegal for the shooter to purchase a firearm. The Defense Department has told Congress it's investigating the database compliance issue, but the cities want a judge to compel compliance and establish a timeline for doing so.

BRIGGS: It was a Christmas Eve to remember for the Travis family in North Carolina. The husband and wife on their way to meet each other when both people saved others in separate incidents. Crystal Travis and her daughter were driving when they saw flames through the roof of a home. They jumped out to help the family and just in time.


CRYSTAL TRAVIS, HELPED SAVE FAMILY ON CHRISTMAS EVE: All of a sudden, like the propane tank on the porch explodes. So, like, it shakes the ground and you can feel it really fast and really chaotic and just really glad that they were able to make it out.


[04:50:01] KOSIK: OK. So that family is OK and Crystal Travis had no idea at the same time -- follow me here -- her husband, Roger, was helping a baby 20 miles away from where she was. Roger Travis is an EMT. And he saw CPR being performed in front of a mall. He stepped in to help the infant.


ROGER TRAVIS, EMT: We did get a pulse back from the child. The child was crying. God put us at the right time at the right moment for the people that needed us the most.


KOSIK: Oh, I'd say in what could be an understatement. The Travis family call it, quote, the craziest day ever.

BRIGGS: Sign me up for the TV rights.

All right. A possible meteor sighting across the United States last night after people reported seeing a flying object in the sky. This video was captured by a group in Maine. The American Meteorological Society says it's investigating reports of fireballs seen over one dozen states from Maine to Florida all the way west to California. CNN reached out to NORAD and NASA to get information so far.

KOSIK: You have a theory, though, don't you?

BRIGGS: Santa making some late deliveries. Some kids got ignored.

KOSIK: The NFL's big Sunday nighttime prime game called off. We're going to explain when CNN "Money Stream" comes up next.


BRIGGS: Prince Harry's stint as guest editor of BBC Radio 4's "Today" program happening this morning.

[04:55:01] He interviewed his father, Prince Charles, and former President Barack Obama, who slammed social media for, quote, corroding civil discourse.

CNN's Anna Stewart live in London with the highlights of this intriguing interview.

Good morning. What do they talk about?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it was a fantastic interview, but as you said there, really the top line from President Obama in his first interview was on social media, warning that people should be cautious when they're using it. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: One of the dangers of the Internet is people can have entirely different realities. They can be cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases. The question I think really has to do with, how do we harness this technology in a way that allows a multiplicity of voices, allows a diversity of views but doesn't lead to a balkanization of our society, but rather continues to promote ways of finding common ground.


STEWART: So the message there is sort of think before you tweet. Be mindful about what you read, but also in this interview, some wonderful light moments. President Obama went into what he misses, what he doesn't miss. He doesn't miss the early starts -- the early starts for work. He misses the motorcade, you know, when there's traffic around.

And it was a lovely moment right at the beginning where Prince Harry warned rather jovially that him if he took too long to give his answers he would give him the face. I'm sure you guys do that too, with your guests?

BRIGGS: I like that face. Nobody misses the early start.

This interview was of course before the engagement to Meghan Markle, but can you give us the latest scoop on the royal engagement there?

STEWART: Oh, it's T-minus five months. We are counting down the days. In this interview actually, Obama was very -- he was just really focused in on his marriage, his partnership with Michelle Obama, and how important that was to him in his role, how much he needed her by his side and I'm sure that was a message to Prince Harry, but how important it is to have someone by his side throughout.

And I'm sure the Obama are very excited about the engagement. It was one of the first to tweet the congratulations when it happened.

BRIGGS: That's fantastic. Can you make the face one more time, Anna?

Live or us in London -- well done.

KOSIK: Nice.

Outrage in the U.K. after an Egyptian court sentences a British woman to three years in prison. Thirty-three-year-old Laura Palmer was accused of smuggling painkillers. She was arrested at the airport back in October after police say they found about 300 tablets of tramadol in her suitcase. Palmer says the pills were for her Egyptian husband who suffers from back pain. Her lawyers say she misunderstood a question in court and gave an answer that appeared to be a confession.

All right. Let's get a check on CNN "Money Stream" this morning.

U.S. stocks down as shares of Apple had their worst day since August. Apple facing questions surrounding slow iPhone X demand after an analyst slashed his projections for the phone by 10 million. Tech stocks across the board fell on the news yesterday and the S&P 500 tech sector falling 7/10ths of 1 percent.

Today is likely to be a slow-trading day with U.S. futures flat and trading volume is expected to be thin because of the holidays.

Oil reaching its highest price in two and a half years. That's after a pipeline exploded in Libya. Libya is a state run national oil corporation said the explosion jeopardized output by up to 100,000 barrels a day. The cause of the blast was unclear. U.S. crude prices, though, spiking 2.5 percent to more than $60 a barrel. That's the highest level we've seen since 2015.

Still prices remain low compared with the $100 a barrel prices that we saw several years ago.

The NFL has cancelled the final Sunday night football game of the season. But don't worry. No one was going to watch anyway. The last Sunday night football game also happens to be the final game of the season. The NFL tries to schedule a game that will have playoff implications for one or both of the teams playing but no teams scheduled for week 17 meet that criteria and New Year's Eve tends to hurt viewership.

So, instead, there will be seven games scheduled for 1:00 p.m., and unusually high nine games scheduled for 4:25 p.m. kickoff. So, Dave, you can still get your football fix.

BRIGGS: Yes, college football tried having a playoff on New Year's Eve and it was a disaster. People don't want to watch football as they count down to the ball drop.

But NBC paid $800 million plus for the rights. I'm assuming they'll be compensated for losing a game on the schedule.

All right. EARLY START continues right now with some record breaking snow. More than 5 feet in parts of Pennsylvania.


BRIGGS: Yes, five feet of snow and climbing. Parts of the north and east getting socked with winter weather as a cold front brings single digits for New Year's revelers.

KOSIK: And White House getting ready to roll out the framework of an infrastructure plan.